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Valuing Your Time

CreativeCOW presents Valuing Your Time -- Business & Marketing Business


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In the last few days, a thread has been developing in our Business & Marketing forum that asked what should be done about a "deadbeat client" that was ignoring repeated requests for payment of an outstanding balance of $450. Sounds fair enough, right? After all, we all want to be paid for our legitimate efforts. But in following the thread, a deeper issue came to bare, one which some owner operators fall prey to. It is The Principle of Valuing Your Time Properly.

In reading the thread, it reminded me of the story of Jack In the Beanstalk. You know, the Grimm Brothers fairy-tale about a boy who falls prey to a salesman on his way to market and sells the family's only thing of real value - their cow - for a handful of "magic beans."

The similarities in the two stories are striking: if you substitute a professional's time for Jack's cow, the picture becomes clear. All Jack had was his cow, and all many of us have is our time. Trading it away too cheaply affects ourselves, our family, and our profession.

There comes a time when you have to learn to walk away - to recognize the ship has sailed away along with your chance of ever being paid.

Some in our business forum argued that you have to fight. You cannot let people take advantage of you or you may as well paint a target on yourself. This is true to a point and the successful businessperson will have to find the balance between recovering the debt and knowing when to just walk away.

Some people argued that the original poster should take the deadbeat to Small Claims Court and try to force payment that way. But again something just didn't add up and I found myself at odds with that advice.

Why?

Consider the amount of time all this was consuming, as the disruption was affecting both the creative and managerial aspects of the business. They were calling the client repeatedly - clearly agitated enough that they were also adding more time to it all as they sought advice from their peers.

They were not going to let this $450 go, no matter what. It was all for "The Principle," they stated with righteous ire. Sounds right, doesn't it? But I would argue that there are times - at least if you are in business for those that rely on you for food, shelter and other sundry items like these - you have to know which battles you are willing to lose, so that you can win the War of Operating a Successful Business.

Sometimes, The Principle has to give way to the Principal - if you are going to be a professional, one whose business decisions unemotionally consider the real costs of business and not just the simplest immediate considerations.

Pride sometimes gets in the way and causes us to do unproductive things in the name of principle. We will trade hours and hours of our time for something as small as $450 that is sinking fast into the bad debt column. That is not a sound business decision in a bad economy in which you have no idea what is really happening with the person/company that owes you.

Valuing debts should be done without the emotion and using sound business principles that recognize these debts against your hourly rate. When I did this in this matter, it became clear to me that this person failed to recognize the most treasured thing we possess - and which we can never get back when wasted - is our time. It has value and not just that of an hourly rate - the fact is, deadbeats happen. Some purposely, others not. Get over it.

Don't trade that which is priceless for a handful of magic beans.






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Comments

Time
by John Livings
Hi Ron and David,
I should have chosen my words more carefully, I did not mean to suggest that You Change your contracts, it was meant as a General Comment as to avoid collections before they happen.

John
Thanks, guys.
by Ron Lindeboom
I think that the way that you have used Small Claims Court, David, is an intelligent use of the court and your time.

Unfortunately, when factoring in all the time that this COW member had put into going after this $450 and in fighting all of it -- not to mention that if they did pursue the court system for further attempt at it -- even if they collected, they would be making pennies an hour at that point.

Time has real, tangible, measurable value, as well as the cost to the emotions and the longterm health of the company when valuations are not made properly.

Thanks, David and John, for your feedback.

Ron
Time
by John Livings
I agree with Both of you, I think you both are saying the same thing.

Why not write your contract to Require FULL payment prior to releasing the finished project?

If they want to review the work (Without Paying the final payment), Away from your Studio, No Problem. Just give them a copy with FCPs "Time-code" Filter Applied to it, So it actually covers content ( Reduce opacity but keep the Time-Code Large)

Use judgement , Your Honest Clients will understand, So will your less than Honest
Clients (They just make more noise)

Just my opinions.

John
Small Claims Court
by David Roth Weiss
Ron,

I don't really think anyone actually argued that $450 was worth a trip to court. However, some people made small claims court out to be a very difficult ordeal, fraught with the dangers of losing additional thousands of dollars on top of what a deadbeat might have taken, and so the conversation moved onto a general discussion of small claims realities.

Certainly, as you say, one needs to pick one's battles wisely, and devoting one's time to those things that pay off instead of those that don't, is a better use of time.

David


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